Former Ferrari and Mercedes chief Ross Brawn was yesterday announced as part of the new senior management team appointed to lead F1 into a new era following yesterdays surprise removal of Bernie Eccelstone from his position as chief executive.
The appointment of the 62-year-old Englishman has been widely acclaimed by media and fans alike as Brawn has often echoed fans concerns regarding the direction the sport was taking.
Given the position that Manor Race Team finds itself currently in, it was a welcome piece of news that a man who has been a long time proponent of the team is being replaced by someone who has publicly backed F1’s requirement for a strong healthy grid.
Brawn yesterday said that the Liberty Medias vision is to change the future structure of F1 so that small teams can be small businesses that are sustainable and even thrive in F1 – so clearly small teams, more than 10 teams and much closer competition between teams front to back are part of the longer term vision.
Brawn used the example of Leicester City who were able to win the English Premier League despite a huge gap in spending between them and richer Premier League clubs. Brawn told the BBC: “We all know the analogy of Leicester City – that would be ideal in F1, when a great driver could you really mount a challenge. But at the moment that not really possible.”
Additionally, he also stated the obvious that “we have a contract with the teams until 2020 so nothing is going to change substantially before then unless all teams agree,”
And there in lies the problem. They won’t. Talk is cheap in F1 and regardless of what public statements are made by other independent teams. If Manor disappearing off the grid next season means a larger share of the pie for them, you won’t hear them complain too much when the gates closed at Banbury.
Realistically, Manor are looking for a buyer who is able to pump in enough cash to bridge the troubled waters for two-three seasons until Brawn and Co and start to shape their vision on F1.
The troubled post season means that Manor Race Team in their current state, are red hot favourites to finish last in 2017 whoever buys them and that will once again result in a huge loss of TV revenue.
Under the current revenue structure it is going to cost a bidder at least $100 million just to get them to the end of the 2018 season. That is quite the loss, unless of course, that buying an F1 team will help assist you re-coup the money through another sports related venture.
Regardless, there should be enough money in the F1 pot for it to be shared around accordingly and the situation Manor Racing finds itself is not a reflection on the team butis to quote a team member “symptomatic of the financial state of the broader sport.”
As we stated yesterday, It is not going to look good for Liberty Media to officially lose a team within its first week or so of ownership of the sport. We hope they are not all talk and truly mean business.
They should be doing all they they can to assist getting the current deal over the line. What better way to signal a fresh start for F1 under a new regime than to be publicly being seen saving two hundred jobs.
Manor Racing, took a giant leap forward in 2016 and showed that it more than worthy of its place on the F1 grid. It is also a team that gave two exceptional rookies their debut last season. They are a team that gave Indonesia its first ever F1 driver, Opening up an new market for the sport. Just the 240 million potential new customers. They are a team that fielded the only Asian driver on the grid during a period when that region is allegedly meant to be one of the targeted growth areas for the sport. They are a team that participated in Q.2 five times and scored a point on merit. They also added to the drama of the end of season with our see-saw battle for 10th place with Sauber.
As Manor Race Team fans, we would be utterly devastated if the team were to disappear from the grid. As F1 fans, we would consider it an outrage and a PR disaster for F1 if only 10 teams turn up in Melbourne. Brawn will be well aware of this.
He’s done a lot of talking in the past and now he has the power to do something positive for the sport and he can start on that rather long to-do list and ensure that there are 11 teams on the grid at the start of the season by helping save Manor Racing.